Tiny Spiders ‘Rain’ Down: Baby Arachnids By The Millions Fall From Aussie Skies, End Of Days?

It sounds like a sci-fi flick or an end of day prophecy coming true, but when tiny spiders by the millions rained down on a town in Australia, it wasn’t parody, superstition, or a ’60s drive-in movie. But thankfully, scientists think they know why scores of baby arachnids fell like rain from the sky, citing a USA Today report. Reportedly, it has to do with pasta and balloons — sort of.

When some residents in Southern Tablelands woke up in the morning hours, the ground, trees, and rooftops of nearby homes appeared as if they were covered in snow. Those who came outside for the first time in the dusk hours likely saw an ominous sight in the sky that looked like a bad storm approaching.

And when they learned that tiny spiders were raining down on their town, they went into full-on panic. Ian Watson, a resident of Goulburn, explained the creepy scene.

“The whole place was covered in these little black spiderlings and when I looked up at the sun it was like this tunnel of webs going up for a couple of hundred metres into the sky… But at the same time I was annoyed because… you couldn’t go out without getting spider webs on you. And I’ve got a beard as well, so they kept getting in my beard.”

The town, where the little black spiders fell down over a number of days, is about two hours drive outside of Sydney, Australia. Many described what they saw as arachnids flying and raining down in all parts of the town. One scientist says this may be shocking, but what residents report seeing is not uncommon at all.

Martyn Robinson, a naturalist from the Australian Museum, says that “ballooning” partly explains why spiders invaded Australia. The spiderlings climb to the tops of perches (trees or plants) and release thin silk threads into the air. When a breeze comes along, they are taken aloft. Soon, millions of other airborne spiders band together in a mass migration when their webs collide, as Robinson explains.

“They can literally travel for kilometers … which is why every continent has spiders. Even in Antarctica, they regularly turn up but just die. That’s also why the first land animals to arrive on new islands formed by volcanic activity are usually spiders.”

On the reference to past: Robinson says that what people are seeing on the ground is when the spiders rain down from the sky and collect in fields. Over time, the joining together of silk beds take on a characteristic look called “angel hair.” This usually takes place after heavy winds and rising flood waters.

In March over Idaho, about 2,000 geese fell from the sky, which sent locals into panic. The birds were strewn over a large distance, and Bald eagles were seen feeding on the dead carcasses. Witnesses described large goose flocks dying in flight and falling out of the skies. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game believes the culprit is Avian cholera, which evidence suggests is caused by Pasteurella multocida Type 1 bacteria.

According to Robinson, the raining down of spiders isn’t a sign that the world is coming to an end. “There’s nothing to worry about… They’ll all disperse once the weather conditions warm up.”

Still, the look of silk roads is unsettling — no matter how you spin it (pun intended).

[Photo via Wikimedia Commons]